Where we stand with the Trump-Russia investigation
(For those who have been following this page for a while: my main target is not Trump, my target is Putin. Putin, not Trump, is the most dangerous person in the world. Trump is just a lackey, a small-time crook and bit-time liar whom Putin is using to attack the USA).
The problem is not that there is no evidence of Trump-Putin collusion, the problem is that there is too much of it.
- Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn lied about his contacts with Russian operatives and Trump eventually fired him when the news was leaked to the media.
- Michael Flynn is willing to testify about the Trump-Russia scandal only if given immunity from prosecution. When one asks for immunity, it usually means that a) he has information that the investigators don't have; and b) he knows he has committed a crime.
- The FBI discovered evidence that Putin ordered Russian hackers to hack the computers of the Democratic Party with the specific intent of damaging Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton (testimony under oath of the director of the FBI)
- Jan 2017: A report by the US intelligence community accused Russia of attempting to influence the election to hurt Clinton's candidacy and bolster Trump's by taking several measures, including disseminating false information online.
- The FBI discovered evidence that Putin ordered Russian hackers to hack the voting machines (but this failed) in order to alter the votes in Trump's favor
(testimony under oath of the director of the FBI)
- Chris Steele (top British spy) released a dossier in which he claims that Trump and Russia cooperated to hijack the US elections (Click here for the full dossier). Trump initially denied everything, as usual. One after the other of Steele's statements are being proven true, and Trump's denials proven false (as usual). See for example this article
- Britain provided the USA with intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives
- The FBI and the Justice Department obtained a warrant to monitor Trump's adviser Carter Page because they presented evidence that there was "probable cause" to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, Russia. In 2013 Page met repeatedly with Russian spy Victor Podobnyy in New York, and in July 2016 Page delivered a lecture in Moscow that sounded exactly like official Russian propaganda. A few days later Page was at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland where he and other Trump advisers, including Jeff Sessions (who is now Trump's attorney general), met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. (The Trump organization has denied that Page had any role as an advisor to Trump, but Trump himself named him as a close adviser, hence Trump lied either then or now).
- The Israeli magazine Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Israeli intelligence officials were concerned about sharing sensitive information with the Trump administration because they feared that the Trump administration would pass them on to Russia (which is an ally of Iran and Hezbollah, two arch-enemies of Israel).
- There is mounting evidence that the Trump administration informed Russia before striking Syria, and Russia obviously informed Syria, which explains why the Syrian army suffered no casualties and no Syrian planes were destroyed. (See for example this article or this article).
- Attorney general Sally Yates has testified that she had confidentially warned Trump of Flynn's illicit activities before. Trump did not take any action at the time against Flynn but instead a few days later fired Yates.
- FBI's director James Comey documented a conversation with Trump in which Trump asked him to drop the Flynn investigation.
- Trump fired FBI's director James Comey while the FBI was investigating the Trump-Russia connection.
- The following day a photograph taken by a Russian photographer accidentally revealed that Trump had just met with the Russian ambassador and with the Russian foreign minister. The US media were not invited to this meeting, an odd meeting to start with (usually the president does not meet with a foreign minister unless the foreign minister is a good old friend).
- May 2017: A few days later the Washington Post discovered that Trump revealed highly classified Israeli information to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador.
- May 2017: A few days later the New York times discovered that Trump reported to his Russian guests that he had fired the FBI director to stop the inquiry into the Trump-Russia scandal.
- May 2017: The Washington Post discovered that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to set up a secret communication line with the Russian ambassador
- Jeff Comey testified under oath that Trump pressured him to stop the investigation. Comey also called Trump a liar.
- Comey confirmed that the Department of Justice was investigating Trump associates for potential collusion with Russia to influence the US elections.
- Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions testified under oath that he never had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russia during Trump's campaign
- Unfortunately for Sessions, Richard Burt, a former US ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration who is now a lobbyist working for Russia in Washington, confirmed that he wrote a Russia-friendly foreign policy speech for Trump AND that he (a Russia lobbyist) was invited to two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.
- Trump, who a few weeks earlier had cordially met with the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister, snubbed the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko when the latter visited Washington in June 2017. Trump offered absolutely zero words of support for Ukraine in its civil war against Russian-supported separatists.
- In June 2017 the Senate voted overwhelmingly (98 to 2) to impose sanctions on Russia as punishment for meddling into US elections. "Vladimir" Trump himself finally admitted the meddling in a tweet in which he accused Obama of not immediately punishing Russia for it.
- In July 2017 the New York Times published details on a meeting between Trump's campaign (his son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager) and a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who works for the Russian government just about at the same time that Russian hackers launched their attacks against Clinton. As usual, the Trump staff denied everything, admitting what they had just denied one day earlier only when faced with new evidence the day after.
- The Washington Post summarizes the New York Times findings like this: "Trump aides were in the market to collect negative information that could be used against Clinton - at the same time that Russians were collecting such data."
- In July 2017 Trump gave a speech in Poland that is largely a copy of a speech given by Putin in September 2013 in Novgorod, as if the writer was the same
- When you read this article, remember one thing: when i first started writing about this scandal, the typical reaction by my readers was that this was a ridiculous conspiracy theory. It doesn't look ridiculous anymore, and it increasingly looks like real life, not conspiracy theory. Everything that i wrote at the end of 2016 is slowly being proven true, and much more has been found out that i could ever imagine. And "Vladimir" Trump still refuses to show us his tax returns.
- Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner originally denied ANY meeting with Russians, but by July 2017 had admitted more than 100
- Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group discovered that during the G20 Trump and Putin had a secret one-hour meeting in the presence only of Putin's interpreter (in other words, with no US witnesses of what was discussed)
- Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions repeatedly stated that he never had any contacts with Russians during Trump's campaign, but in July 2017 a Washington Post's article presented evidence that he may have done just that, and not with a remote liaison to the Russians, but with the Russian ambassador himself.
- In July 2017 a senate judiciary committee hearing was held for Bill Browder (see the full transcript), a businessman who uncovered a $230 million corruption scandal tied to Putin himself. The Russian lawyer who investigated it, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured and killed in jail in 2009. Bowder explained the motive behind Putin's meddling in US elections: Putin was angry at the sanctions slapped on Russia after the Magnitsky assassination for the simple reason that Putin keeps most of his many billions of dollars in the West (the "Panama Papers" showed that Putin's close friend Sergei Roldugin stashed away $2 billion from Russian oligarchs and the Russian state, presumably on behalf of Putin) and those sanctions risk freezing and confiscating that money. Secondly, Putin promised impunity to all of his corrupt cronies, but the US sanctions de facto punish them. These cronies (who have committed crimes well beyond embezzlement, from kidnap to extortion, if not outright torture and murder) number in the thousands. They all hid their money in Western banks. Bowder testified that Natalia Veselnitskaya (the lawyer who colluded with the Trump team) was in charge of lobbying in Washington to repeal the sanctions via a fake NGO (that officially works to promote Russian adoptions).
- In August 2017 the New York Times published emails between Felix Sater (born Felix Sheferovsky in Russia) and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. Sater, behaving as an intermediary between Trump and Putin, delivered the message that, if Trump built a Trump Tower in Moscow, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.. I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected” (email of 3 November 2015). For the record, Cohen has denied that he ever met with Russian officials in Prague in late 2016, as claimed in the Steele dossier, but admitted that he met with Sater in January 2017 in New York to discuss lifting US sanctions against Russia. Hence Sater must have had a direct link to Putin. In 1998 this same Sater had pleaded guilty to collaborating with Russia's organized crime, and a July 2017 report by the Financial Times revealed that Sater is now under investigation by the FBI for an international money laundering scheme. In 2006 this Russian-born Sater was managing director of New York-based real-estate firm Bayrock Group when it entered into a deal with Trump to build the Trump SoHo Hotel, a joint venture with Georgian tycoon Tamir Sapir (who became a billionaire working with the Soviet Union in the 1980s) and funded by Kazakh businessman Alexander Mashkevitch, who called himself a "personal friend" of Kazakhstan's dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev. (Not my fault if Soviet people pop up everywhere in Trump's biography). In 2010 two former Bayrock employees, former director of finance Jody Kriss and Michael Chudi Ejekam, filed a lawsuit alleging that the firm was (quote) "substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated". Sater's shady career has been the subject of a series of articles written by distinguished journalists: Charles Bagli's "Real Estate Exective with Hand in Trump Projects Rose from Tangled Past", Stephanie Kirchgaessner's and Julian Borger's "Felix Sater: the enigmatic businessman at the heart of the Trump-Russia inquiry ", Tim O’Brien's "Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia Machine", Andrew Rice's “The Original Russia Connection”, and Bob Dreyfuss' "Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?". In 2013 Trump abruptly cut off a BBC interview when the BBC interviewer asked him about Sater.
- In August 2017 Rod Wheeler, a former homicide detective, filed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump team worked with Fox News and Republican donor Ed Butowsky to fabricate a conspiracy theory (about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich) in order to distract from the Trump-Russia investigation (that conspiracy theory was in fact repeatedly aired by Trump cheerleader and Fox host Sean Hannity).
- In September 2017 the Washington Post revealed that Paul Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska "private briefings" on the US presidential campaign
- In October 2017 Trump announced that he would not certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement even though Iran is complying. The focus on Iran is odd given that that Russia is not complying with a more important nuclear treaty. Russia has deployed nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Trump's crusade against Iran, a country that has complied with its nuclear deal, distracted the public from the fact that Russia is not complying with a more important nuclear deal (Iran cannot strike the USA, Russia can).
- In October 2017 a Republican senator, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that "Trump is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation ... I think the debasement of our nation is what he'll be remembered most for". Note the "purposely". It implies that Trump is doing it on purpose not because he is incompetent or ignorant. On purpose.
- In October 2017 Russia's president Vladimir Putin launched one of his most stinging critiques of the USA during the Valdai forum at Sochi,
an annual conference of Western academics.
Meanwhile, a state-run television network was broadcasting two special reports featuring interviews with Veselnitskaya and Russia's prosecutor general ChaikaE
- In October 2017, a few days after Putin's speech at Sochi, Trump's main propaganda channel, Fox News, launched a storm of accusations against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama based on an old conspiracy theory of the radical right-wing media Breitbart (the same ones who argued for years that Obama was not born in the USA), a conspiracy theory widely used by the Trump campaign in 2016, based on a book by radical right-wing pundit Peter Schweizer, "Clinton Cash". According to this conspiracy theory, Hillary Clinton gave 20% of the USA's uranium to Russia in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Whether true or false (the last thing that would surprise us in California is a case of corruption in Washington, but selling uranium to Russia is neither illegal nor a threat to the USA, so much so that in 2015 Russia supplied 13% of all uranium purchased by nuclear power plants in the USA), this doesn't change what we know about the Trump-Russia collusion scandal. It actually reinforces the notion that Russia has been plotting to undermine the USA. It also reinforces the notion that the Trump camp is scared of the investigation and that it is looking for tactics to delay it and undermine it. This is also eerily reminiscent of the standard tactic used by Putin to discredit his accusers: whenever someone accuses Putin of wrongdoing, Putin doubles down on the accuser with fabricated accusations that end the accuser in jail. The most notorious case in the USA is the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was sentenced to jail, and eventually died in jail, after exposing a massive fraud scheme involving Russian officials.
- In fact the "uranium scandal" came out on Fox News just when the New York Times was about to publish new revelations about the meeting between Trump's son and a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya: far from being an independent, Veselnitskaya was trained and coached by no less than Russia's prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, one of the most powerful men in Russia. In fact the documents that Veselnitskaya handed to Trump's son were a rephrasing of documents that Chaika's team had already given two months earlier to US congresswoman Dana Rohrabacher. Stephen Blank, a senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, argues that Veselnitskaya's actions "were coordinated from the very top." Apparently, Chaika's scheme (and therefore Veselnitskaya's) was not aimed specifically at discrediting Hillary Clinton but at hurting William Browder, a fierce Putin foe (see July 2017 above), the man behind the 2012 sanctions against Russian officials (precisely the "Magnitsky Act" named after Sergei Magnitsky).
- In October 2017 Trump's mouthpiece Fox News also started demonizing Mueller, the one in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation, just when Mueller announced the first indictments in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
- In October 2017 Trump and his mouthpiece Fox News also resurrected Chris Steele's dossier after revelations that it was partially funded by the Democratic Party (it was initially funded by Republican opponents of Trump during the primaries). The dossier contains material that no major media took into consideration. The fact that Trump and Fox News try so hard to discredit it makes people like me think that maybe there is more truth in that report than we imagined.
- In October 2017, just when Trump's mouthpiece Fox News was trying to distract the public with new (actually old) accusations against Hillary Clinton, Mueller charged three members of the Trump campaign: its former manager Paul Manafort, his chief assistant and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Manafort's crimes had nothing to do with the Trump campaign but, at the least, show bad judgement on the part of Trump in picking his team (at worst, they show that Trump surroundes himself with crooks and mostly Russian-paid crooks). Papadopoulos is a direct link between Russia and the Trump campaign because he was asked by Russia to set up high-level meetings with Trump in person and delivered those messages (without anyone in the campaign reporting that a foreign power, and the main rival to the USA, was looking for the collaboration of a presidential candidate).
- November 2017: The investigation into the Trump-Russia collusion obtained a confession from Carter Page that he did indeed meet with Russian officials in July 2016, a fact mentioned in the Steele dossier but always denied until now by Page. Page confessed during a testimony he gave to the House Intelligence Committee. One by one all the statements in the Steele dossier are being confirmed. While we have found no evidence of the video mentioned in Steele's dossier, the chances that the video exists increase as the credibility of the dossier increases.
- November 2017: As the Wall Street Journal and other media have reported, one of the Russian men who helped Steele compiled his Trump-Russia report was assassinated and three others were arrested (charged with treason). It sounds like Russia takes Steele's report much more seriously than the US media.
- November 2017: Dmitri Alperovitch, a legendary computer security expert who has helped the USA to identify Chinese and Russian hacking attacks (in 2017 he was included in Fortune's "40 Under 40" annual ranking of the most influential young people in the world) gave a talk at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict about how Russia scientifically planned to destabilize US politics before the presidential elections.
- November 2017: In one of the many amazing coincidences of this case, just one week after Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia and two days after Trump called for Saudi Arabia to have the state oil company go public in the USA (an IPO that is expected to be the biggest in history), Saudi Arabia arrested 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers, and in particular billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the man who saved Trump from bankruptcy in the 1990s and therefore knows quite a bit about Trump's turbulent past. Talal also attacked Trump in 2015 with a tweet that read "You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America" to which Trump responded with a tweet promising retribution. How does this related to Russia? In November 2016 Alwaleed, furious at Russia's support for Assad in Syria, threatened: "I will finance Israel and Arab Countries to Invade Russia".
- November 2017: The "Paradise Papers" leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and provided to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed thousands of secret deals that went through the Bermuda law firm Appleby, including deals by Wilbur Ross, Gary Cohn (Trump's chief economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs executive), and Rex Tillerson (Trump's secretary of state and former Exxon Mobil executive). In particular, Wilbur Ross’s firm Navigator in the Cayman Islands conducted business with Sibur, owned by Putin’s close friend (and, famously, judo partner) Gennady Timchenko and Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov. Furthermore, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner invested in Silicon Valley social media (both Twitter and Facebook) using money from VTB, Russia's state-controlled bank, and Gazprom Investholding, Russia's government-controlled institution.
- November 2017: Trump's spokeswoman dismissed Manafort's alleged crimes as being merely about money-laundering and helping Russia in Ukraine, as if it was perfectly normal that a politician hired such a man (out of 300 million US citizens) to run his political campaign
- November 2017: After meeting Putin one more time, Trump stated "He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again - You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. Every time he sees me he says, I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. He says, I didn’t do that." This is about Putin, a man widely believed everywhere in the world (including his own Russia) to be a congenital liar. On the same day Trump also escoriated the US intelligence agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI) that have proven Putin to be a liar: former national intelligence chief James Clapper, ex-CIA director John Brennan and former FBI chief James Comey. The unanimous reaction among politicians, the intelligence community and even foreign commentators was that Trump's statements are undermining the USA and posing a peril to the country (as Clapper said).
- November 2017: Two days after Trump pathetically defended Putin's innocence (quote: "He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again - You can only ask so many times... I just asked him again... He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election... He did not do what they are saying he did... Every time he sees me he says, I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it... He says, I didn’t do that"), British prime minister Theresa May accused Vladimir Putin of election meddling.
- November 2017: Luke Harding publishes a new book, “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win”, that pretty much says what i have written in this page and in my lengthy investigation What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?.
- November 2017: An investigative report confirms that Trump's Panama tower was used for Russian money-laundering by one of the tenants.
- December 2017: As expected by everybody (except maybe Fox News' radical right-wing commentators), Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
- December 2017: Trump tweeted: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” If Trump knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, then the president had knowingly obstructed justice when he asked the FBI director James Comey to let “Flynn go” and then fired him for not doing what asked to do.
- December 2017: Coincidence or not, in November 2017 Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed on a conference to decide the borders of postwar Syria, and in December 2017 Egypt granted Russia the right to use its airbases; two events that Trump tacitly approved and that marked the replacement of the USA with Russia as the main power broker in the Middle East. Trump also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, so that the USA can no longer play a role in the peace process, another gift to Russia. This move has brought condemnation on the USA by all traditional allies in the region, including British prime minister Theresa May, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron... but not from Russia's president Putin: the USA is now as isolated as Hitler's Germany was in 1939. Thomas Friedman has written: "In nearly 30 years of covering United States foreign policy, I've never seen a president give up so much to so many for so little, starting with China and Israel." And that's on top of killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal, that would have created a 12-nation economic bloc controlling 40% of the world economy led by the USA. No US president has ever given Russia so many gifts. Russia comes out of Trump's first year in office as a world power with much more leverage than the USA, which is now a marginalized regional power. A German minister said that Germany is now more worried about the USA than North Korea...
- January 2018: Trump's circle has repeatedly attacked the research firm Fusion GPS that prepared the famous "Steele dossier", the dossier that details the collusion between Trump and Putin, a dossier in which so far nobody has found anything false and, in fact, many of its assertions are now proven to be true. Christopher Steele, a well-respected former British secret agent, has never discussed it with the media. Fusion GPS finally responded to Trump's attacks in a New York Times article. We learned that the FBI already knew of collusions before Fusion GPS provided them with the Steele dossier. I feel vindicated: Fusion suggests that investigators should look into "the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump's businesses". See my lengthy investigation: What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns? where i said the same things one year ago. Quote: "We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.". And then concludes with the obvious question that Trump never answered: "Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?"
Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Cold War spy who defected to the West and is still living undercover, wrote a book about the Russian disinformation campaigns that went largely unnoticed at the time it came out, "Disinformation - Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism" (2013), but that sheds a lot of light on what happened in 2016.
Trump's reaction after every revelation of his dealings with Russia is to deny them categorically and to call them "fake news", followed a few days later (when confronted with overwhelming evidence) by an admission that they were true with an explanation of why they were perfectly appropriate. Then he goes after the people who leaked the "fake news" to the media. His interest is clearly to hide his Russian connections: deny that they exist, and persecute those who expose
them (who are often FBI, CIA and NSA agents, who get fired, which leaves the USA more vulnerable to foreign interference and terrorist attacks).
Trump cheated on his wives countless times and divorced twice.
Trump filed for multiple bankruptcies at his Atlantic City casinos which cost his workers millions of dollars in retirement savings.
As far as i am concerned, there is little doubt in my mind that Trump is betraying his country the same way that he betrayed his wives and his workers.
Dear "Vladimir" Trump,
there is an easy way to prove us wrong: release your tax returns.
See also my lengthy investigation: What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?
TM, ®, Copyright © 2017 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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